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Tax Avoidance

HM Treasury written question – answered on 19th March 2015.

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Photo of Richard Shepherd Richard Shepherd Conservative, Aldridge-Brownhills

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what representations were made to the Government on the constitutional propriety of the General Anti-Avoidance Rule introduced by the Finance Act 2013 (a) in relation to whether the Rule seeks to make citizens responsible for shortcomings of the legislative process, (b) in relation to whether the Rule requires the courts to give effect to interpretations offered by an advisory body which is unaccountable and unelected and (c) on any other grounds.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The Government launched its consultation on a General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) on 12 June 2012. A significant number of responses were received from a wide range of respondents. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) published a summary of responses on 11 December 2012 noting that the majority of respondents were broadly in favour of an anti-abuse rule, though there were concerns that the draft legislation had the potential to apply more widely than the stated target.

The role and composition of the GAAR Advisory Panel was an important element of the consultation. The response document notes that, “most respondents welcomed the introduction of the Advisory Panel as a taxpayer safeguard. There was support for the view that it should be a non-judicial body that would consider a case before it progresses to a court or tribunal.”

In addition to the thorough consultation and following the publication of the provisions on GAAR in December 2012, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee considered the Government’s proposals for an anti-abuse rule, as part of their enquiry into selected provisions of the draft Finance Bill. The Committee considered representations from a range of sources. The majority of those who made comments or gave evidence were also broadly in support of the new rule. The Committee’s report is available here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldselect/ldeconaf/139/13906.htm

The consultation and the summary of responses is available at:

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/*/http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageLibrary_ConsultationDocuments&propertyType=document&columns=1&id=HMCE_PROD1_032453

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